Selfies With Food — Goulash

Welcome to Selfies With Food, my new (hopefully) fun blog segment where I prepare, eat, and take selfies with Depression Era recipes. Why would I do such a thing? Because my novel A Cup of Dust is set in Depression Era Oklahoma. Also because I like food. And selfies. And food. Did I mention that already? 

wpid-img_20150519_181954.jpgMy Grandma Pearl was a Depression Era teen. She was all of 14 when the stock market crashed. The daughter of a single mother, my grandma had to learn how to survive in lean times.

She never stopped cooking up the wonderfully improvised dishes that were popular in the 1930s.

One of my very favorite meals Grandma Pearl tossed together was Goulash. When I think comfort food, I think of this, slow cooked and steamy hot.

Here’s what you need:

–3 or 4 medium carrots (don’t even think about using baby carrots…Grandma Pearl would question your sanity for paying extra for smaller sized carrots)

–1 or 2 onions (whatever you’ve got hanging out in the crisper)

Tip: To keep from crying while cutting onions, keep the onions in the crisper of your fridge. They are less potent when cold.
Tip: To keep from crying while cutting onions, keep the onions in the crisper of your fridge. They are less potent when cold.

–Lard (or oil…I used extra virgin olive oil…Grandma Pearl would have giggled about the virgin part)

–A couple cans of stewed tomatoes*

–A small can of tomato paste

–About a lb. of ground beef, browned

–Elbow macaroni (I used gluten free…Grandma Pearl would have told me to deal with the…ahem…gluten issues and buy the cheap stuff. Oh, Grandma)

–Salt and pepper to taste

–Feel free to add whatever else you’d like. Have green beans leftover from last night’s dinner? Toss ’em in! Got a potato eyeballing you? Chop up that bad boy and let him join the party. Have spaghetti sauce hanging out in the back of your pantry. By all means! Lighten your load. Depression Era cooking is all about using what you’ve got and making a meal stretch. Have fun.

Now that you’ve got your ingredients, it’s time to get cookin’, good lookin’!

Goulash is always better the second time. Make enough so you have leftovers!
Goulash is always better the second time. Make enough so you have leftovers!

Boil the pasta and set aside. Brown the meat (seasoned as you like). Set aside.

In a big old pot, sauté the onions and carrots (oh, dice them first, by the way) until they are softish (if you want to save time, use a can of carrot medallions). Add stewed tomatoes and tomato paste. Let them bubble. Add some spices if you’d like. If it seems like it’s getting dry, add a little broth.

When your veggies are soft, add the pasta and beef. Let them sit and simmer for as long as you like. The longer they simmer, the more the flavors mix and mingle. Give it a taste. If the tomatoes are a little too biting, add a pinch or two of sugar (to cut the acid). This is a good time to add a dash of salt or a smidge of garlic powder. Italian spices can also be a nice touch.

Stir every once in awhile to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of your pot. Also, take a nibble to make sure everything tastes the way you want it to. Add salt, pepper, etc.

By this point, your house should be full of the simmering aroma of cooking comfort food.

 Serve it up with your choice of veggies, a slice of bread with butter, and a cup of cold milk.

I made this for my family last week for the very first time. I hate to admit it, but it wasn’t anywhere near as good as Grandma wpid-wp-1432074438685.jpegPearl’s. Then again, she’d been making it many years before I came along. Still, even after a first attempt, my kids gave it 5 out of 6 thumbs up. Not too bad.

Happy Eating!

*Grandma Pearl peeled and cut her tomatoes, letting them stew all day with the other ingredients rather than crack open a can. Good for you, Grandma. I’m a little too lazy for that.

NOTE: If you’ve got grated parmesan cheese, sprinkle a bit on top. It’s so good!

15 Comments on “Selfies With Food — Goulash

  1. So need to try this!! I have several of the items and I just happened to take beef out of the freezer this morning. It’s definitely comfort food. 🙂


      • I made it tonight and it was great!! My husband likes it too, so I will definitely be making this again. It was so easy to make. One question–with gluten free noodles, I waited to add them until the very last minute because they tend to mush faster than regular noodles. Did you wait until the very end to add or maybe you have a great brand of gluten free noodles. I used Muellers.


      • I added my noodles last for that reason. When I had the leftovers, my noodles were mush, but it was ok. Corn pasta holds up better than rice, but doesn’t taste as “normal” to me. You know?

        So glad you made it! Even more glad that you liked it!


  2. Goulash was one of MY family’s go-to meals, too! I believe the recipe was passed down by my Grandma Fausett, but she was a baby during the Depression, so it must have been her mom (Grandma Morey’s) recipe.

    Interesting that yours has carrots. Ours was devoid of veggies of any kind. I remember the sugar, though. 😉


    • I believe this is a recipe brought over by our European ancestors. There’s Hungarian goulash (like this one) and German goulash (with big hunks of meat and potatoes, no pasta, and an amazing paprika sauce).

      My Grandma Pearl spent much of the Depression on a farm, so there were veggies a plenty. She worked veg into everything she could. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh, interesting. If ours was Hungarian goulash, my family must have gotten the recipe from friends. I don’t believe we have any Hungarian ancestry. There’s German aplenty though, in both my parents’ family trees.

        That makes sense about the farm. I don’t have any farm exposure, but when Adam and I had a CSA share, we certainly had to work veggies into everything just to use them up before they spoiled. My mom would have canned everything so there was no waste, but I don’t think I inherited that gene. Other priorities, I guess…

        Thanks for writing! I’ll have to try this recipe. Bookmarking it.


      • I wonder if the Hungarian thing is more in name than place of origin. Interesting. I’ll have to look that up.

        Just wait until the next recipe. Let’s just say that one was…well…not one I’ll try again.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds SO good – and THANK YOU for the onion tip (which neither I nor my husband knew). If my son weren’t so absolutely convinced he hates tomatoes (except in pizza sauce, of course), I might give this a try. Maybe I will anyway 😉

    And you are super cute.


    • Joanne, I learned it while writing a skit for church. It’s such a handy trick. I rarely cry while chopping onions now!

      You can always smooth out the tomatoes with a blender first or just use good old spaghetti sauce! 🙂 My hubby doesn’t like chunky veggies, but he’ll eat them if they’re smoothed. That way he still gets the nutrients without the gagging.

      I think you’re super cute, too. 😉


  4. Pingback: Selfies With Food — Dandelion Salad? | Susie Finkbeiner

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